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My Rates - the things to know

What are rates?

Rates are a form of tax, and the basic principle of a tax is that everyone pays to benefit the greater community. They’re not necessarily about paying for the services you use or receive - they’re about everyone paying a portion towards making their community a great place to live.

Our rates are made up of a mix of tax-based systems, and user pays charges that are outlined below. When property owners are sent their rates assessment for the year and you see those charges as a lump sum, it can be hard to swallow.

Compare this to other living costs, like groceries, power or a car loan, that you pay for in bite size chunks (often weekly, fortnightly or monthly):

  • The average kiwi home paid around $2,345 for electricity last year. For that much money, they got power.
  • The average kiwi home paid around $1,032 for internet last year. For that much money, they got internet.
  • The average kiwi home paid around $5,592 for groceries last year. For that much money, they got food.
  • The average urban Matamata-Piako home paid around $3,200 for rates last year. For that they got roads, water, parks, playgrounds, pools, libraries, footpaths, streetlights, rubbish collection, animal control, walking tracks, community events, licensed food premises, cemeteries, grants and more.

Where a power bill only pays for power, your rates enables a whole lot of things to happen in our community – often things we don’t think about until they’re not there. Like if you’ve ever needed a public toilet in a hurry and couldn’t find one, there’s a water shut down and you’re needing a shower, or a local road closure adding time to your journey.

Those other bills can feel more manageable because they come in bite sized chunks. You can pay your rates in instalments too (e.g. lots of people choose to pay weekly or fortnightly) – but we have to set our rates before the start of each financial year so we know what our budget is and what your payments will be.

The other bills can also feel more manageable because you have a degree of choice. We all need food and electricity – but you can make changes at home to reduce those costs when you need to. Rates are a bit like that too – but it’s Council making those choices on behalf of the community. Ultimately, we own and operate a lot of expensive assets, and they come with a lot of costs we have to pay (just like you need food), but we can and do make changes and cuts as part of our annual budget setting process. If those changes are signficant, we also consult the community on them (wouldn’t it be nice if the supermarket and internet companies did that too?!).

Find out more

Your rates assessment gives you a breakdown of where your rates go and that’ll look different for every property. There’s also our Rating Information Database that'll tell you information about your property value and rates.

Where our income comes from

Rates are Council’s main source of income. We wish we had more options (such as a tourist tax, or receiving a portion of GST), but at the moment, the Rating Act is the only option we have.

Our rates are made up of a mix of tax-based systems, and user pays charges. Check out the following explanations of the different kinds of rates, and who pays what.

Tax based rates

or General rates

Tax based rates (known as ‘general rates’) generally contribute towards services that everyone benefits from – such as roads, libraries, parks and reserves, democracy, pools, online services, civil defence etc. There are two kinds of general rates:

- Capital value: the higher value your property is, the higher rates you pay.

- Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC): a set fee charged to all properties. The UAGC is designed to ‘level the playing field’ so that the gap between high value and low value properties isn’t so significant.

User pays charges

or Targeted rates

User pays charges (known as ‘targeted rates’) are rates charged for specific services, that are only charged to the people who receive that service - such as rubbish collection, water and rural halls.

Other income:

Fees and charges

The other user pays charges are our fees for using specific services – such as pool entry, building or resource consents, venue hire fees, transfer station fees, dog registration and more. Most services funded through fees and charges are also subsidised through general rates.

Other income:

Grants and subsidies

Waka Kotahi/New Zealand Transport Agency contributes 51% of costs towards our local roading network. We also receive occasional grants from central government towards specific projects – past examples are the Provincial Growth Fund projects, Tourism Infrastructure Fund, and Transport Choices projects.

Other income:


We’re required to collect rates to replace our assets at the end of their life – but instead of having that money piling up in an account, we put it to good use. We loan that money back to ourselves to fund capital projects - but at a lower interest rate than what we’d borrow from the bank. It works just like a typical loan, where we pay interest – but instead of that interest going to the bank, it’s going back to our community and helps offset rates a little.

How rates compare

We are always trying to strike a balance between what is affordable and essential, and what we really need to progress with to ensure this district remains not just a well-serviced community, but a place that puts people at the heart of everything we do.

Costs always increase just to provide the same services to the current standard – but over the last couple of years those increases have been staggering. Every household will have seen this on a smaller scale through their groceries, insurance, electricity, fuel etc.

See how some of the services your rates pay for compare to other common costs. The figures used below are based on the median rates bill for a residential property in the 2023-2024 financial year.

My Rates & Water

For those on town supply, your rates pay to ensure water is safe for drinking and hygiene purposes. A water treatment plant's job is to make the water safe to drink by screening, filtering and disinfecting it and there are 10 water treatment plants across the district that process about 6 million cubic metres of water a year to keep up with demand. That’s nearly 16 million litres of water a day!

A network of over 400km of pipe transports raw water from our catchment areas to the treatment plants, and once it’s treated another set of underground pipes transport safe drinking water to properties around the district, so it’s on tap when residents need it.

All that for about the same as what it would cost to buy a small bottle of water each day.

What each ratepayer contributes towards water will differ. Using a residential property with a total rates bill of $3,161.82 as an example - $516.20 goes towards having safe drinking water on tap. That’s $1.41 each day, $9.92 per week, or $43.02 a month.

This doesn't include Wastewater and Stormwater.

My Rates & Roading

We maintain over 1,000km of road – that’s longer than the entire North Island! The majority of our local roads are sealed (950km) and with only 55km that’s unsealed we have the second lowest percentage of unsealed roads in the Waikato region.

All that comes with a hefty price tag. We currently spend around $2.3m each year on maintenance (e.g. pothole repairs, minor roadworks), and a further $5m on renewals (e.g. resurfacing, renewing road surfaces, major roadworks) of our road network. That doesn’t include the State Highway roads which are looked after by Waka Kotahi/NZ Transport Agency.

There are also about 3,100 streetlights in the district that are taken care of by our roading team, of which 82% are LED – and while we don’t control the power supply to them, we do have to pay the power bill.

What each ratepayer contributes towards Roading will differ. Using a residential property with a total rates bill of $3,161.82 as an example - $464.88 will go towards our Roading budget. That’s $38.74 a month, $8.94 per week, or $1.27 each day.

My Rates & Libraries

Libraries are more than just buildings with books; they’re vibrant hubs of learning, innovation, and community connection.

Libraries serve as dynamic hubs that provide free access to a wealth of information, foster a love for reading in children and provide resources for lifelong learning - libraries empower minds at every age. They are essential contributors to literacy, workforce readiness, and cultural engagement. Beyond books, libraries offer technology access, community programmes, and spaces for collaboration.

Our libraries are well used, with over 102,500 visitors each year, and run around 345 programmes - from wriggle and rhyme for babies, to the coding club and teen nights, to book chat groups and author talks, and everything in between.

Your rates contribution is an investment in an informed and connected community.

What each ratepayer contributes towards Libraries will differ. As an example, a residential property with a total rates bill of $3,161.82 contributes $98.34 each year to our Libraries service. That’s $8.20 a month, $1.89 per week, or $0.27 each day.

My Rates & Parks and Open Spaces

Parks and Open Spaces provide a lot of social, health, economic and environmental benefits. They strengthen communities by providing local identity, places to play, socialise, commemorate or celebrate. They are great contributors to our physical and mental health.

As places of beauty and relaxation, parks and open spaces networks add to vibrant town centres, and make towns more attractive to live in or visit.

They are also practical and great for the environment. Street trees provide shade, and tree canopies and root systems reduce stormwater flows and nutrient loads to watercourses. Plants absorb carbon from the atmosphere, while forests and wetlands provide wildlife habitat, and floodplain reserves protect towns from flooding.

Check out the district's wide variety of parks, skate parks, and walking, tramping, cycling and mountain biking trails in our Parks and Open Spaces Strategy.

What each ratepayer contributes towards Parks and Open Spaces will differ. Using a residential property with a total rates bill of $3,161.82 as an example - $138.95 each year will go towards Parks and Open Spaces. That’s $11.58 a month, $2.67 per week, or $0.38 each day.

My Rates & Emergency Management (Civil Defence)

Civil Defence Emergency Management is New Zealand’s system for reducing risk, getting ready for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies. Civil Defence is not an organisation as such - it’s a system that coordinates emergency management. It’s how communities, emergency services, organisations, and government work together to get ready and get through an emergency. That means we all have a part to play before, during and after an emergency occurs!

Every dollar spent on emergency management is an investment in the safety and resilience of our communities.

What each ratepayer contributes towards emergency services will differ. As an example, a residential property with a total rates bill of $3,161.82 contributes $10.87 each year to emergency management in the district. That’s $0.91 a month, $0.21 per week, or $0.03 each day.